Wintercast 2011

Wintercast 2011

Joe Murgo breaks down what you can expect this upcoming winter. <br mce_bogus="1">
We were treated to an early record snowfall in October. This helped to spark off the questions about what will the rest of the winter will bring. While it is impossible to forecast specifics for an entire season, we do have skill in forecasting the way a winter may trend. 

What factors will influence us this winter? For the second year in a row, we have a La Nina in the Pacific Ocean. This tends to cause mild and dry weather for the southern US and wet weather for the Northwest. Cold air is usually bottled well to the north, but there can be some harsh arctic outbreaks, especially for the Northeast. This also sets the stage for snowy weather in the Midwestern states and can result in sloppy systems for our area.

But La Nina is just one factor. The Gulf of Alaska is also running cold which helps to promote cold outbreaks for the west and mild weather for the southeast. Snow cover has grown to near or at above normal rates through Asia and Canada and that can help develop Arctic air masses that I see coming our way in the early part of this winter. Lastly, the water temperatures off of the Atlantic Coast are a bit below average over the southeastern states and above average off of New England. This may mean that we will have less coastal storms, and ones that do develop may tend to do so once they pass our area.

Here are the temperature specifics of the Wintercast:

Month
Last Winter
Average
This Year's
Forecast
December
26
32
26
January
23
27
28
February
31
30
33
March
38
38
36



There is no way to forecast specific amounts of snowfall. On top of that we have a wide variety of average snowfall across the region. Here is a chart of the average annual snowfall for cities in our viewing area.


City
Average Annual Snowfall
Altoona
44"
State College
47"
Johnstown
50"
DuBois
61"
Ebensburg
103"
Lewistown
25"


Though I think this winter will be prone to more in the way of mixed precipitation events which may cut snowfall amounts.


Summary statistics for the December - March time period.

Average temperature 31 degrees (a degree below the long term average).

Snowfall 65-85% of the long term average. This would translate for 29-37" for a place like Altoona.




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